Let’s talk about periods! Mostly so we can talk about PMS and period diets, but still. I personally enjoy torturing myself for one week out of each month and have opted out of a birth control method. I prefer the natural and holistic approach to basically everything. My boyfriend and I have no intentions on getting pregnant, so we use precaution in that respect, but I’m not diluting my body for a lighter period and the possibility of growing an extra arm or losing all my hair. So, how do I ‘deal’ with those lovely two, sometimes three, if we’re being honest, weeks of the month? You’re all going to hate me but, healthy diet, exercise and hydration!
When I was in college, I treated my body as a human dumpster when my period came around. It was the ultimate excuse for me to skip the gym and eat ice cream for every meal. And the result? Feeling even shittier, while I’m already fatigued and losing quarts of blood. (Slight exaggeration, whatever.) Yes, bars of chocolate and a whole bag of Hot Cheetos sounds ideal in the moment but it’s only going to leave you with worse period poops, more fatigue and undernourishment. I didn’t want to believe my Netflix and do absolutely nothing excuse was total bullshit.
When I became Vegan, I noticed that my body underwent some serious changes, especially during that time of the month. I was getting better sleep, losing weight and had loads more energy. Mornings at the gym were tolerable and my stomach wasn’t making weird noises throughout the day anymore. It was great! I noticed during my period that my diet significantly improved my symptoms before, during and after those wonderful days of the month my body betrayed me.
There are more than a fair share of Vegan junk food and I found them all, like a bloodhound when my period was near. However, I noticed if I stuck to raw foods and traded candy for fruits, my period improved still! That being said, if I am experiencing horrific Freddy Krueger cramps and the only thing that will make me feel better is some So Delicious mocha chocolate bars, it’s happening. I often crave salt when I PMS and sweets during my period. Here is how I grocery shop for both:
Avoid anything with salt, it’s only going to add to the bloat that is already happening and make you more uncomfortable. If I really want chips, I’ll make some at home, check out this recipe, or buy your favorite chips, unsalted. Homemade plantain chips or kale chips are also a crowd favorite. This is what my PMS week shopping list usually looks like:
Food for Life bread
Spring roll wrappers
Fresh fruits and veggies
Spinach or any crunchy green
Usually, during this week I’ll make a stir fry with spring rolls, a pasta with zoodles and pesto, hummus wraps and lots of toast. I also like to snack on lots of fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day because I can’t seem to get full. I like to get a lot of greens, so I’ll opt for a spinach banana smoothie or premade green juice like, Evolution Fresh, Suja or Blueprint. If I’m still hungry, I’ll make caffeine free tea, like Yogi Ginger and make sure I’ve been drinking water before each meal and snack.
Period week is a whole other beast but I am generally a sweet tooth Sally. My focus during this week is to eat lots of good fats, fresh fruits and avoid carbs (I’m not sure why but I feel better laying off some weeks) Heres what my Period Week lost looks like:
fresh fruits and veggies
broth for soup
My meals tend to be lighter and more like snacks during this week. Again, I can never seem to get full but I am also severely bloated and feeling sick most days, so I try to keep things small. Lots of avocado toast and plain oatmeal for breakfast and lunches. I tend to eat something light, like a brothy soup or salad for dinner. My favorite is indulging on an entire bar of 90% dark chocolate for the days I can’t help myself.
My workouts tend to range widely during this time but I absolutely workout as many days of my period I’m feeling up to it. I feel so much better and my cramping and headaches are relieved, even with a relaxed 45 minute workout. My first and second day are my absolute worst days, I generally stay at home and do yoga and go for long walks. Once my heavy days subside, I’ll focus on HIIT or bootcamp work. Nothing keeps you from forgetting about your belly cramps like sore thighs from too many bear crawls. I’ve found that moving the body and staying active is key for keeping the wonderful side effects of your period minimal or at bay. I do yoga in the morning and before bed each day, especially during my period because I get so tight. Is a 45 minute walk around your neighborhood, getting away from Netflix and your chocolate for an hour to enjoy some fresh air really that bad?
Periods suck and you are fully within your rights to go crazy on whatever junk food your wild heart desires, vegan variety preferred. I am a sucker for the vegan cake section at Whole Foods and basically the entire frozen food section. Give me all the almond milk ice cream! Make sure you’re being moderate and treating yourself. Don’t let it be an excuse to eat 3 pints of dairy free Ben & Jerry’s for dinner. I won’t judge you, your stomach just might be worse off.
We hate to hear it but a wholesome diet, hydration and working out are key for a minimally painful and productive period. Now, this is what works for me, I can’t speak for any other woman. My period is long and heavy but I am by no means bed ridden or incapable of living my life during this time. I have friends that have horrendous periods that disallow them from doing much more than sitting in bed during their periods. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to continue on with my life, relatively unnoticed on mine. My diet has helped with my period pains, sleep and overall productivity! Find foods that work for you and a exercise plan you can commit to. Yoga does wonders on the body and is the perfect low impact exercise for anyone, anytime! What are your period go tos? Favorite foods? Exercise? Movies? Let’s chat!